Monday, July 18, 2016

What's Worth Learning?

I recently went through many of my old blog posts in which I discussed my views on education in general and shared my thoughts on the kind of education I liked my boys to have. These old posts were written when my boys were just toddlers and some just before they entered Primary school at the age of 6+.

I have to admit I am very proud to be reminded of how steadfast I have been, all these years, of my beliefs in the way my kids should be educated.

Take for instance, on the topic of Knowledge. To most people, knowledge is something that we should have as much as possible. Hence, they may have a strong desire to acquire as much knowledge, in as many topics as they can and/or dwell as deep into a narrower range of topics, with the intention to have a thorough understanding of the topics.

Since the beginning of my parenting journey, I already have very strong views on what was worthy knowledge and what I would consider as irrelevant information. Instead of taking the view that my boys should learn as many facts as possible, I used to question constantly if I would consider the content as worthy to learn. Basically, not all content is equal.

Not long ago, I chanced upon this article "What's Worth Learning in School?" in the Harvard Magazine. Definitely a thought-provoking piece!

I agree that education these days, especially in our schools in Singapore, has focused too much on the acquisition and accumulation of ridiculous amount of knowledge regardless of its relevance to our daily lives. The upper Primary Math and Science curriculum, for instance, is a classic case. While my boys can master them, it has without any doubt, been achieved at a huge cost. Even though we do not spend any money on tuition or enrichment, in order to ace the subjects, there is still significant investment of my boys' precious time, which is a scarce resource.

Instead of focusing so many hours per week on the content-heavy subjects and drilling the students to master exam techniques, I wish the Primary School kids could be taught/exposed to other MORE useful skills/areas such as ...

- financial literacy in which they learnt about importance of savings and budgeting etc
selling something they create. It can be an idea, product, service...
marketing (nope, I don't mean grocery shopping!) a business idea/product. And YES! I do believe even a 7 - 12 year old can be taught/trained this skill and it will be incredibly useful to begin young.
customer service so they can also see it from the customers' perspective
critical thinking 
- story-telling
public speaking 

just to name a few....

Precisely because I think the schools are doing a lousy job covering these areas, I have been teaching my kids these skills since they were little. They may have started young, but they are definitely still work-in-progress with lots of room for improvement.

Nevertheless, I like to think that I have planted the seeds in them, and with our years of nurturing, they shall grow and blossom one day.

From tiny acorns, mighty oak trees grow.

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